Your characters. Have any questions for them?
Who /What does the main character want? The treasure, the journey, freedom, safety?
Will your Main Character act the archetype role of a Heroine/Hero?
How about your secondary characters? Can there also be roles for them to choose from: Helpers, Teachers, Fools, Guides? Can you define the role you want them playing within your story?
The point is, let your characters, in their roles, also stand for something. Do that and suddenly you aren't just someone who’s writing accidentally.
- Example Toggle
Let’s say your novel will be about a girl living on her own, in a big city, at the age of 17.
Your Character role call might look something like this:
Katie is the Heroine. Also the narrator.
James is the Treasure. Also the boyfriend.
Gail is the Shadow/Other. Also the rival.
Liz is the Helper. Also the next-door neighbor.
Ellie is the Guide. Also the employer.
It can be as simple a list like this or as in-depth as you want to make it. You can plan it out on paper, or keep it all in your head as you write. You’re the creator, so it’s your world– just remember that new worlds need to be populated by different characters playing different roles.
- Lesson Exercise 1 Toggle
Lesson Exercise 1:
Let’s take a look at any one of your own ideas. Whether it's from an completed outline, your journal or scribbled on a stack of Post-it notes tucked under your desk lamp for safe keeping. What roles are the Characters in your work going to play?
There will be the archetype role (hero, fool, wanderer, guide) and the 'part' role - Bus Driver, Nurse, Student.
Each character should have a dual role/function within the story, such as:
- Hero. And narrator.
- Treasure. And wife.
- Shadow/Other. And neglected child.
- Helper. And nurse.
- Guide. And therapist.
Write up the same type of Character list for your story idea. Go as deep or stay as light as you need to, but find out who you will be working with.
The goal here is to be aware of who you‘ll be using in your story. So no one is there on accident. Make each character work double-duty. First to populate your story, and second to define each dual role/function within your story.